By Christy Martin
I would like to address a few points that some (most) of the women involved in boxing do not understand. In my opinion, women’s boxing saw its hey day around 1996-97. During this period promoters were using more women on shows of all magnitudes. However, the decline started as quickly as the rise.
Soon after, many women boxers began to out price themselves. They made it impossible for small shows to include a women’s bout, and big time promoters were not interested in building women’s careers. Young fighters of either sex must “pay their dues” and take time to improve upon their skill level. This may mean fighting for free or very small purses in order to get fight experience. In boxing, the pay scale is extreme. You have fighters that make huge paydays, and then you have some fighting for one hundred dollars a round. Sometimes it seems the best fighters are not the best paid. Shane Mosley is a good example. Even though he beat Oscar De La Hoya, he didn’t necessarily become “The Man.” Often it is how well the public receives you. All too often, the pay scale is based on public acceptance, and not on talent.
Women fighters are too concerned about other women’s agendas. Not just in my career, but recently Laila Ali was referred to as “self-serving;” someone only worried about promoting herself and not promoting women’s boxing. Every time Laila, Mia, or myself enter the ring, we are promoting women’s boxing. Women fighters need to understand that this is a business and just like any job, everyone must try to climb the ladder of success. For the most part, this is a dog-eat-dog world and that includes boxing, big time! We are each our own product, and it is up to us as individuals to create and promote ourselves. You must recognize that McDonald’s isn’t trying to sell Wendy’s chili!
I think women’s boxing could have been more successful if women would have just tried to fit into the men’s world of boxing. Given the fact that boxing is not widely as accepted as other sports by the general public, why try to stand-alone? One of the major complaints about men’s boxing is the number of championship organizations. Women’s boxing fell right into the same system with too many champions. Everybody is a champion and none of the titles have any credibility with the public. Therefore, they bring no money to the fighter.
Another issue I have is the attitude that women boxers can compete with men. Come on; be realistic! Men are just too strong and their speed is too much for women to deal with. Women fighters maintaining this position make it tougher for those trying to fit in and succeed. Women must remember that they can be women outside the ring, yet fight with the intensity and heart most would associate with a man inside the ring. Promoters have more interest in promoting women that look like women, than those with the tough guy looks. Whether people like it or not, this is a fact. Look at the example of Bob Arum. He chose to promoter Mia St. John instead of Lucia Rijker.
The most crucial point that women don’t comprehend is that boxing is a business. Remember when one ticket is sold to a sporting event it is now a business. Sometimes it is not always about fighting the best. Some fights are made because the public wants to see them and are not necessarily the best match-ups. But why not realize that there are two ways to skin a rabbit? In other words, instead of always following A-B-C-D, why not chose B-D-A-C if it is more of a financial gain for the fighter.
The bottom line is women boxers out there should worry about promoting themselves and perfecting their skills. They shouldn’t waste their time complaining that Laila is getting breaks because of her name or that Mia has opportunities because she uses sex to sell her name. Go out and find you own niche and make your own name. Remember it is a job!
Christy Martin’s boxing career began on a dare in 1987 during a Toughman Contest. Jim Martin began training her as a pro in 1991. They later married in March 1992. Her next “marriage” was with Don King in October 1993. She has fought on many of the most watched fight cards in the history of the sport. Often times her bouts turned out to be the most skilled and entertaining. Some of her career highlights include the cover of “Sports Illustrated” and serving as the Grand Marshall for the Hall of Fame parade. She is the WBC/WBA Honorary Champion and has an excellent record of 44-2-2 (with 31 KOs).